Coming forward as a sexual assault survivor is no small feat. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to tell your story. For many survivors, the thought of having to testify against their abusers is the biggest reason why they stay silent. What many survivors do not know is that they are not legally required to testify in a civil court proceeding.
Survivor Testimony Is Not Required During a Sexual Assault Civil Case
A sexual assault civil case in Kansas can be brought forward, negotiated or litigated, and won – all without the survivor having to testify. You do not need to see or interact with your abuser or testify in court during a sexual assault civil lawsuit. You can hire a sexual assault trial attorney to represent you throughout the entire legal process.
If you do wish to have your day in court and testify against a perpetrator in person, it is your right to take the witness stand. If the idea of testifying gives you more anxiety than closure, however, you can allow a plaintiff’s attorney to handle the lawsuit for you. The courts recognize how traumatic testifying can be for victims of crimes such as assault and rape. In the civil justice system, victims do not have to testify.
Note, however, that the rules are different in a criminal sexual assault case. If criminal charges are being brought against someone for committing sex crimes against you and you are viewed as a material witness, the prosecutor or defense can issue a subpoena requiring you to appear in court. While ignoring the subpoena will not result in jail time for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, it could lead to a fine for each day that you refuse to testify.
Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights
If you pursue financial compensation in a civil sexual assault lawsuit in Kansas, it will be up to you how much to participate in legal proceedings. During your case, you will be protected by certain survivors’ rights under state law. These rights include deciding whether or not to report the sexual assault to the police, having an advocate present during any chosen medical examinations, and obtaining a protective order against the attacker.
Survivors also have rights during any civil proceeding brought against an individual or institution for the tort of sexual assault. For example, survivors have the right to use a pseudonym to keep their identities anonymous and to have their identifying information kept out of court files. Survivors can also maintain a private address through the Kansas Address Confidentiality Program. If a survivor does choose to testify, he or she has the right to a private waiting area prior to testifying in court.
How a Sexual Assault Attorney Can Protect You
Whether or not you choose to testify in a sexual assault civil case, it is important to hire an experienced Kansas sexual assault lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer will work closely with you to meet all of your goals for confidentiality and privacy throughout your case. Your lawyer will do everything possible to keep your identity anonymous and protect your well-being.
Your lawyer can establish grounds for your civil lawsuit without requiring you to testify, for example, by searching for, discovering and collecting all other available types of evidence to support your claim. This may include other witnesses, police reports, medical records and expert opinions. A lawyer can represent you during all settlement negotiations, pretrial hearings and a sexual abuse civil trial so that you can focus on healing and moving forward without putting your anonymity at risk.
To learn more about how a sexual assault civil lawyer can protect you as a survivor, contact DRZ Law for a free and confidential case review.